June 24, 2017

The looting of cultural property of occupied Cyprus described in a report published by McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Τhe McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research which is part of the Cambridge University has just published a report entitled “Stealing History: The Illicit Trade in Cultural Material” which reveals the illicit exploitation of the cultural treasures and stresses that modern-day looting is greater than illegal trade carried out in the past. It estimates the financial value of the illicit trade in such material as anything between 150 million to 2 billion sterling per year.

The story of the looting of Panayia Kanakaria Mosaics by the Turkish occupation regime in the northern part of Cyprus is highlighted as one of many examples of illegal trade of archaeological and cultural treasures.

Among the specific examples of looting given in the report, reference is made to the raid on the premises of an antiquities dealer by German police in Munich in 1997 and the recovery of “50 to 60 crates full of material ripped from the wall of north Cyprus churches containing 139 icons, 61 frescoes and four mosaics.”

The report asks the British government to ratify the 1970 UNESCO Convention to make the system for licensing exports of cultural material fully comprehensive and to encourage transparency in trade.